Retro Computers - MSX Retro Computer

A classic MSX computer
MSX Retro Computer
Not quite MSXellent, the MSX brand of computers was a novel idea by Microsoft to try and standardise hardware.

The idea was conceived by Microsoft Japan and came to fruition in the mid 1980's. Despite Microsoft's involvement, the MSX series of computers did not really take hold in the UK or the USA - where there were probably already too many machines with a firm foot-hold in the home computer and computer gaming market. They did become very popular in other countries though.

The idea for the MSX brand was inspired by VHS video tapes which had become the industry standard at the time, so it was figured that the same could be done with computer hardware.

A lot of electrical good manufacturers promoted and built MSX machines - anything with the MSX logo was compatible with anything else with the same logo - regardless of who had manufactured it.

Because of standardised 'off the shelf' parts the production costs of the MSX were essentially pretty low. That was until they added a professional keyboard and Microsoft BASIC which drove the price back up again.

The MSX brand became popular in Japan and gaming giants such as Konami and Hudson Soft developed plenty of classic games for the machine (the famous Metal Gear series started life here).

Because the likes of the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 had cornered most of the 8-bit home market in Europe by the time the MSX came along, it's main success was in Brazil, Argentina, Japan and South Korea. In those countries it did become something of an arcade games computer.

Over it's 12 year life-span the MSX spawned four generations:
MSX (in 1983), the MSX2 (in 1986), the MSX2+ (in 1988) and finally the slightly rubbish sounding MSX TurboR (in 1990).

The first three incarnations were 8-bit computers based on the Z80 CPU, while the MSX TurboR was based on an enhanced Zilog Z800. The MSX TurboR was unsuccessful due to a lack of support and the rise in popularity of the by then well established PC market. The popularity of the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST (which were now established as classic games machines) can't have helped either. Production of the TurboR ended in 1995.

All in all the MSX must go down as a classic machine. This platform did spawn several popular gaming franchises such as the classic arcade game Bomberman and Metal Gear Solid and the emulation scene for the machine is alive and kicking. Download an MSX emulator and try out some of those old titles - there really are some classic games on offer.

The MSX was a good idea that just didn't quite come off.

We recommend trying to pick up one of these machines.
Look at computers for sale online or even locally.

If you don't want to get hold of the real hardware then try and download an emulator and download those classic games. Alternatively you could try and play them online.

Retro Computers and Classic Games is what we are all about...

4 comments:

Simon said...

In the mid 80's I was working in London for a computer games distributor mainly specialising in MSX games (Holland was our biggest export market btw)

The MSX console was far superior to the Spectrum, Commodore64 and the others, it failed in the UK market only because we were told that people wouldn't stump up 20 quid for a computer game!

The Konami slot-in cartridge games were the mutts nutts, we played them at work for hours!

It was the right product but at the wrong time, pity, I loved it!

The Retro Brothers said...

Cheers Simon - 20quid a pop for games (back then) would have been a bit steep!

I never actually tried an MSX, which is a pity.

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